There are a lot of variables for a happy stay. Here are some proven tips and tricks to make everyone feel more at home, if and when trouble arises.
If a dog shows signs of separation anxiety, such as restlessness, excessive barking or an upset stomach, there are some go-to remedies worth trying. Exercise takes a dog’s mind off his worries. Maybe it’s a nice, long walk or a friendly game of fetch. A quiet spot in the home with a familiar toy or blanket can be very calming. And if his tummy can handle it, a favorite treat might be soothing distraction—especially if it’s interactive, like peanut butter in a Kong.
Making mealtime easier
Let’s face it: Mealtime is a highlight of a dog’s day. It’s important to stick to the dog’s regular food and feeding times. If you’re watching multiple dogs, a good way to avoid food aggression is to feed each dog from his or her own bowl. Spread the bowls around the room to give each dog a personal comfort zone.
Some simple foods can help a dog who’s having trouble with gastrointestinal distress. For diarrhea, boiled chicken and white rice can help him. If a pet’s parent is okay with skipping a meal when there’s an upset tummy, it’s okay to do that and then start the dog with chicken and rice the next meal time. For loose stool or constipation, add one tablespoon of plain pumpkin purée to the dog’s meal per day. The fiber and water content can help. Staying hydrated is important. Add a little homemade chicken stock to his water to encourage drinking. (Make sure the stock isn’t made with onions.) Be sure to check with the pet parent when changing a dog’s diet.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure here. Don’t take a dog’s leash off until you’re safely inside the home. Be extra careful when you’re opening the door to exit, let in visitors or accept a package. If a dog does escape, don’t chase him. Instead, crouch and calmly call the dog—luring him with treats if possible.
Most dogs give signals before they bite. Recognizing the warning signs and taking action can help prevent a painful incident. If you hear growling, the dog is uncomfortable or unhappy. Give him some space. Before biting, a dog’s body and tail may stiffen. Look for signs of dominance between dogs, such as mounting, growling or staring. Prepare to separate the animals if need be. For humans, don’t interrupt a dog while he’s eating or sleeping. Let him sniff the back of your hand before you try to pet him. Don’t immediately pet a dog on the head or around the mouth.
Marking and mounting
Homemade or store-bought Belly Bands are a great way to prevent male dogs from marking their territory and everything in your home as their own. A Belly Band is a slightly elasticized cloth (with a disposable insert) that wraps around the waist of the pup. Want to make your own? Use an Ace bandage wrapped around the pup with an adult incontinence pad as the insert, held together with velcro strips. Or try baby diapers with the tabs cut off and velcro strips to hold them on. Not sure if a dog is a marker? Use an ultraviolet light to find out. Then take action because stains encourage future pets to continue the pattern of marking. To clean up a mess, enzymatic cleaners are the way to go. Whether it’s Nature’s Miracle, Equalizer or Chrisal PIP, these products can help clean up the messes your pets leave behind.
Mischievous, scratching pup?
Give her a job to do: Focus on you. Whether you tie her leash to your belt loop or attach via a carabiner, keeping her close prevents her from getting into trouble and teaches her to pay attention to the alpha dog in the home: you. Bored or nervous pups may scratch or chew on wall edges, baseboards and doors. The Clawguard can help protect your door, or you can use removable duct tape.
More in: A Field Guide to Pet Sitting
So you’re interested in pet sitting? Or maybe you want to be an even better sitter. Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve compiled the collective knowledge of our Rover sitters and staffers to create this helpful guide. From great introductions to bad behavior, this guide is packed with answers to some common questions—and few you probably wouldn’t have even thought to ask.
Chapter 6: When trouble calls